Many years ago, when I initially began to delve into the history of my husband’s Curbow family, I was told by immediate family members that three Curbow brothers came to America from Ireland – while still other researchers stated that the Curbow’s were French Huguenots who fled France to escape religious persecution. In addition to this oral history, I ran across a 1949 newspaper article published in the Southwestern Times (a Houston, Texas publication) entitled, Local Couple to Join Six Varieties of Kerbow at Cooper. The article goes on to detail a Kerbow family reunion which was to include all spellings of the surname – Kerbo; Kerbow; Kirbo; Curbo; Curbow and Kuehrbeaux. The article claimed that the family (no matter the spelling) is descended from a Joseph Kerbo of Edgefield County, South Carolina, and in particular, is descended from one of the 45 French Huguenot families which settled just south of the Santee River at old James Town, South Carolina in 1680. To date, I have found no real sources to substantiate any of these family stories.
To be sure, we do have a Joseph Curbow in our line. He was a North Carolina revolutionary war soldier, who did live for a period of time in the Edgefield District of South Carolina but later settled in Gwinnett County, Georgia. Joseph is believed to be one of our Curbow ancestors – we just don’t have the information yet on how he ties into our family line. I believe that the French Huguenot ancestor being described in the Southwestern Times news article is Jean Carrieŕe who did in fact settle in Old James Town, South Carolina on the Santee River. Old James Town was located about forty miles north of Charleston and was settled by French Huguenots who established the first Huguenot Church there (The French Santee St. James). In Jean Carrieŕe’s naturalization record, he was described as a cooper and a planter. He was born to Jean and Elizabeth Carrieŕe in Normandy, France. According to relevant parish records, he did marry and he did have a son named John. A Jean Carrieŕe (possibly the father of this immigrant) was denizened in England in 1700. A land warrant was issued in South Carolina on 3 Jan 1701 for the survey of 200 acres for a “John Careau.” I believe that we can disprove – or at least cast heavy doubt on the theory – that this Jean Carrieŕe is our Curbow ancestor. The timeline is much earlier than what we know about our Curbow ancestors and this information does not fit our Curbow family migration pattern (Pennsylvania to Maryland to North Carolina to South Carolina to Georgia and then into Texas).
The Curbow surname does appear to be of French origin. As used in America, it may be an Anglicized form of the French surname Courbou(x) or Courboules. In that instance, Curbow is derived from the village named Courbou(x), in the Lat and Haute-Saone region of eastern France. Alternatively, it could be an Anglicized form of Courbeu(x) or Corbault. In that case, the name derives from the French word corbeau – which translates raven.
In genealogy, your family history research must begin with the known facts about your ancestors and work itself to the unknown. After almost ten years of researching, I have hit a major brick wall with my husband’s 3x great grandfather, Tilman P. Curbow, and so I have decided to do something that any professional genealogist would warn you against. I have skipped forward by several generations of known Curbows – and have started working my way down the family tree. By doing this I hope to get a clearer picture of the Curbow family as a whole and possibly glean some answers as to who Tilman Curbow’s parents were.
Have any of you ever researched “down the family tree”? What are your strategies in breaking down brick walls?
Stay tuned for Part 2 – Jean Corbeau – the immigrating ancestor –